Spoilers ahead for those who have not yet seen GLOWs Season-Two finale.
Its liberating to see women express their rage in straightforward fashion on Netflixs GLOW, and the shows second season culminates with the most satisfying scene yet. During a a wedding-themed wrestling competition, Liberty Belle (Betty Gilpin)—wearing pink and gold bridesmaid ruffles and a sweetheart neckline—flips, hip-tosses, and cross-bodies her male opponent out of the ring. Its a battle of the sexes in spandex, and for costume designer Beth Morgan mining the 80s most over-the-top fashion details for this particular gender-role-reversing scene was a career high point.
“I dont know that Ill have another moment like this in my career, where I had so much fun doing something that was super creatively satisfying,” Morgan said in an interview. “Working on GLOW and working for women”—creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch—“especially in this time period and this climate, you feel so free and open and that you can really bring suggestions to the table.”
Upon learning of the wedding-themed wrestling match, Morgan went down a Pinterest rabbit hole, pulling photos of 1980s brides and bridesmaids, from real life and fashion magazines. Morgan herself was a bridesmaid in a cousins wedding in the 80s, and used her cousins gown as a bit of inspiration. Morgan also took cues from a glorious Cindy Crawford photo from the era, in which the supermodel wears an elaborate headpiece, huge sleeves, and a pearl neckline.
“The bridesmaid costumes integrate pieces of all different 80s bridesmaid dresses—the ruffle was really important to me, and then the headpieces I thought were a necessity,” said Morgan. She chose pink and gold as the color palette—in a nod to the GLOW logo—and got her hands on a limited supply of vintage gold lamé that her team used to create the shoulder ruffles.
Morgan was insistent that the ladies leotards have sweetheart necklines in spite of the fact that they were a “nightmare” to engineer. Not only did Morgan have to figure out a way for the leotards off-the-shoulder sleeves to stay in place and create a design that was flattering on a variety of body types, but Morgan also had to ensure that the bridesmaid costumes were fully functional for the aerobic requirements of wrestling.
Morgan and her team installed wiring in the shoulder ruffles so that they would not fall down the womens shoulders, and integrated rubber from thigh-high stockings into the bustiers. “I was so passionate about it, like, We will figure this out,” laughed Morgan. “We had many, many fittings while shooting the show because I was like, This dream will not die. The [costumes] will be off the shoulders.”
Once Morgan engineered the bridesmaid leotards, she accessorized the look with plastic skinny belts worn in the eras workout videos, pink spray-painted Reeboks, and headpieces made from gold tulle netting. She also created ankle ruffles that are not exactly period correct, but better proportioned for the overall look Morgan was going for.
Morgan took a leap of faith while designing Rhondas wedding gown. Even though the Kate Nash character was not supposed to fight in the ring in the initial script, Morgan designed the wedding dress as a leotard with detachable skirt . . . just in case. “It did end up story-wise that she would rip it off at the end of that round,” said Morgan, referencing a scripting change partially inspired by her costume.
It was while designing the wedding dress, complete with puffed sleeves and tiered ruffles, when Morgan encountered the one 80s detail that even she considered too much: “lace at the end of each ruffle.” The costume designer scrapped the extra lace when constructing Rhondas layer-cake skirt.
“To feel totally open and non-threatened to pitch a totally different idea than what was originally in the script—as a costume designer and a creative person in general, that doesnt always happen. Its a real gift to be able to feel completely supported,” said Morgan. “Basically, I got to take all my favorite things about the 80s and throw them up on a leotard. And it turned out glorious.”
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